231: Making a Successful Transition into Retirement with Joe Casey
Today, I’m speaking with Joe Casey. Joe is an Executive Coach and Retirement Coach with extensive experience navigating transitions, both in his own life and with his clients. At the age of 52, he retired early from his career in Human Resources at Merrill Lynch to become an executive coach. Since then, he has dedicated his life to helping people create successful second act careers and get the most out of their retirement.
Joe earned his coaching certification from Columbia University and is a Certified Retirement Coach through Retirement Options. He is also a Certified Designing Your Life Coach through Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, authors of Designing Your Life.
In today’s episode, Joe and I dig into the different types of coaching he offers and how he is helping so many people successfully transition into retirement. We also discuss some reasons why so many people are afraid of retiring instead of embracing it, and the incredible potential that the largest generation in history has right now to make an impact in the world today for future generations.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- Why Joe wants you to let go of the hero’s narrative–or at least stop focusing on yourself as you enter retirement.
- Why so many retirees have 30+ hours of screen time a week–and how the freedom to do whatever you want can give way to profound unhappiness.
- How to find a great retirement coach–and when to look for one.
- What “unretirement” is, and why it’s become so popular.
- The power of doing something new (or coming to something with purpose) later in life.
- "You can help people create more income. You can’t create more time." - Joe Casey
- "Most people do not know what exactly they want to do going into retirement, and that’s okay. Give yourself time to experiment." - Joe Casey
- Retirement Wisdom
- Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr
- Flipping a Switch:Merrill Lynch Your Guide to Happiness and Financial Security in Later Life by Barbara O’Neill
- Merrill Lynch
- Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age by Bruce Feiler
- Employee Benefit Research Institute
- Front Row Dads
- Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
- Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg, PhD
- The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
- 7 Traps in Planning for Life in Retirement - And How You Can Avoid Them
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
DisclosureOffer valid in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, to first-time requestors. During the offer period, receive one (1) in-stock book per request. Limit (1) book per week per household. Limit three (3) books total each calendar year, between January 1 and December 31. Offer valid while supplies last. Howard Bailey Financial, Inc. reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify this offer at any time. Void where restricted or otherwise prohibited.
Casey Weade: Joe, welcome to the podcast.
Joe Casey: Casey, great to be here. Appreciate the opportunity to talk with you again.
Casey Weade: Well, yet we have another retirement coach joining us here on the Retire With Purpose podcast, and I'm excited about it. I followed you, Joe, for quite some time. I think I originally reached out to you to schedule an interview years ago. And now, here we are.
Joe Casey: Great to hear. I appreciate it.
Casey Weade: Well, I'm excited to get things started because I think you have an interesting story into your journey throughout your working life, but most of all, that transition into retirement, that transition into executive coaching, that transition into retirement coaching, even going back to school when you were 59. I think individuals are going to be interested to learn what that experience was like.
But before we get into your background, there's something that I wanted to kick things off with that I thought might be an interesting conversation right off the top here. And it was regarding a blog post that you had posted fairly recently on the power of letting go of the hero's narrative in retirement and the idea of spending our last part of life serving others. Can you just speak to what you mean about letting go of the hero's narrative?
Joe Casey: Sure. So, this is something I picked up when I went back to school. And I went back to school because my wife reminds me all the time, I have a lot to learn still, but it was a book by Richard Rohr, who is a Franciscan priest in New Mexico, and it's a book called Falling Upward. And he basically talks about the first half of life, we're building our identity, our container of skill set, but in the second half of life, our priorities change. And as Wayne Dyer once said, it moves from pursuing success to pursuing significance, really want to make a contribution to others, a contribution to the greater good. And it's not necessarily a linear path. There are stumbling stones, as he calls it, along the way, and it's something that we return home again. He talks in the book about how the hero's journey always goes out, conquers, but then returns home. And then returning home is the second half of life. We really have a chance to focus on your own purpose, and that's a topic you know a lot about.
Casey Weade: And so, the hero's narrative is our journey to retirement as I hear it, and then we step into retirement and that's our journey back home. And do we let go of that hero's narrative? Because I hear a lot of retirees stepping into retirement going, now, I get the opportunity to be a hero. Now, I can go volunteer. Now, I can go do those things that I've always wanted to do and make an impact in the world. I've got a gentleman right now that is now, he retired in his mid-50s, and he is now working as a volunteer, a foreman, if you will, for one of the local housing groups to build homes and underprivileged homes. That's kind of his hero's journey now.
Joe Casey: So, I think it's letting go of the focus perhaps on ourselves, on achievement, on success, on building that financial portfolio, the financial resources, and shifts the focus toward others, toward really, what are we really here for? What's that sole purpose that really drives us now, because it may not be the same thing that drove us in the first step from the last.
Casey Weade: Yeah, and there's something different driving you right now, and it seems to be coaching. And I think for some, this concept of retirement coach or having an executive coach is a relatively new concept. People have maybe thought of a retirement coach as a financial planner working with them, maybe they had a business coach while they were working. What exactly is executive coaching and retirement coaching? Do you differentiate the two?
Joe Casey: They are definitely related, but different. And to start with my own experience. I had a corporate career of 26 years, one company. And in 2000, I had a coach for a year because in retrospect, I was probably a hard case, took longer than usual. Usually, I worked for about six months or so. And the executive coaching part's really about helping leaders raise their game, be more effective at what they do often when they're taking on broader responsibilities, increased scope, increased scale, better at their job.
And what happened for me is once I got so much out of that experience because I had a tremendous coach and she taught me a lot, I learned a lot. There was a definite difference in my leadership and a ripple effect on the organization I was leading and supporting, but I remember thinking at the time, boy, I did all the work. Like, what did my coach really do? Of course, that's what it's about. The coach really guides, facilitates, runs the process to help you generate insights and then take actions.
Retirement coaching for me came about actually, after I became an executive coach, which was 11 years ago, I was hired to groom a successor to a CEO at a company, and he decided halfway through, said this process had been great. It's taught me one thing, I don't want to be the CEO. I want to retire early at 55 and do something more philanthropic. And that led me to Retirement Options because I was looking for tools that might help him and others, and then it started to come up more and more.
A lot of women in particular that I was coaching for companies asked me, "I don't want to really be doing this when I'm in my 50s or 60s. Can you help me figure out how to get on not-for-profit boards? So, I'd like to be on corporate boards when I'm in my 50s." And so, I think a retirement coach is similar in terms of the guiding principles. It's helping someone figure out the new path, but both are future-focused. They're really not like a therapist looking backward. They're looking at the future and trying to make sense and clarify, what's most important to you now? And then, charting a course in a practical sense, how do you get there?
Casey Weade: Yeah, I can imagine those two things are fairly symbiotic for you. You have your executives you've been coaching for many years that are now ready to transition to retirement, go, hey, I'm a retirement coach, too.
Joe Casey: Yes, that definitely happens. I have actually now three former clients that I'm working with who are in a transition. So, they do come back, but I do both simultaneously. So, I have an equal weight of a number of clients that I coach in both spheres. Most of the companies that I coach with, I've done business with for almost 10 years in most cases, although I pick up usually a new company or two each year. And that's a privilege because really, I get to work with people who are much smarter than me. It's a big universe and makes my job a lot easier.
Casey Weade: Well, you are a human resources dude for many years, and I wonder how that experience in human resources has contributed to your career as a coach.
Joe Casey: Well, I think it's about really, human potential. That's always what attracted me to HR, even though we're known for saying the word no a lot. So, it's really about developing talent, retaining talent, attracting talent to your organization. And then, I saw my career, how much I grew and the people around me grew. And I think that continues in retirement. That's something people sometimes forget that we're generally, COVID aside, the impact on longevity, we're living longer.
And a lot of times, people have been brought up in a way where I think retirement is the end, but it's actually the beginning with our minds to continue to learn. The neuroscience has figured out a decade or so ago about neuroplasticity, which means our brains continue to develop new connections. So, lifelong learning is important. There's a lot more to do. And because we're living longer, as you know on the financial side, people need to fund 20, 25, 30 years in retirement, but what I help people with this, how are they going to invest their time? You can help them create more money, more income. Most people can't create more time, I help them figure out what do you do with that most precious asset of all?
Casey Weade: Well, you said that's the most precious asset of all time, which I agree. What's more important, investing money or investing time?
Joe Casey: Well, I think you need the money first. So, what do you do in helping people is foundational, it's fundamental. You need that first, we all know that. So, it doesn't replace it. What I do is complementary. It's now that you've achieved that financial security. What are you going to do with your freedom? How are you going to leverage it?
One of the guests we had in our podcast, Barbara O'Neill, a former Rutgers professor, wrote a book called Flipping a Switch. She calculated that there are about 2,500 hours a year that people when they move into retirement, have free to allocate to different pursuits. And I often talk with clients about that. How are we going to use those hours? What are you going to do with it? How are you going to allocate it? What's most important to you? How are they going to align with your values?
Casey Weade: Now, I want to ask what people most often struggle with when it comes to allocating that time. First, I want to point out something that was in your eBook, which we're going to offer here in just a moment. Your eBook said that the average retiree spends 32 hours a week watching TV. That was an astounding statistic.
Joe Casey: It's come up in various sources. The Pew Research Center had a study looking back over the last decade, and not just TV, but screen time. And it's not surprisingly increasing pre-COVID. Imagine with all the Netflix we all did during COVID, what the stats are now, but it's at the expense of other pursuits that many people will consider to be more meaningful. Reading, social activities, exercise, those are going down. Screen time is going up. And I think that's because sometimes people have a tendency to drift because the great thing about retirement is not having a structure or schedule. You've got to create your own. And a lot of times, people want a break between, you've earned it, you earned a break, but if it goes too long, vacation is not that exciting or interesting or challenging, and they need to look for ways to find the right amount of challenge in their new life.
Casey Weade: Yeah, and that's what I most often hear when I ask someone what they're going to do in retirement, and said, whatever I want to do. I'm going to wake up when I want to get up. I'm going to go to sleep when I want to go to sleep. I'm going to do what I want to do every single day. And I think that speaks to what it says on your website. It mentions that on average, retirees spend two and a half years deciding what they would like to do next. Is that time frame at two and a half years, is that that time frame where people are going, I'm going to get up when I want to get up, I'm going to go to sleep when I want to go to sleep. And does something change two and a half years in, and that's why they come to see you?
Joe Casey: Well, actually, that's an average status developed by my former firm, Merrill Lynch, in conjunction with age wave. And it's the average. So, there's a range there, as you'd expect. We all know the downside to averages, but it's a good length of time. Bruce Feiler wrote a book last year, Life Is In The Transitions. His research showed it's four and a half years on average for other transitions, all transitions. So, big story is, a big headline is, it takes a while. And oftentimes, it's because people don't get a running start. They don't do some of the work before they retire. And then you're also faced with the vacation part, sounds good, but you've heard the expression every day is Saturday, and it becomes every day is Saturday.
And what I see when people don't do the preparation ahead of time is they end up walking into all of a sudden these tugs of wars going on. They hope on one side things they really want, but then there's fear on the other side about really drawing them back. They have dreams of things they want to accomplish or things they want to do or ways they want to be in retirement, but then they have released the realities of life that get in the way. And then, finally, they have also some things that they are really looking to do with the freedom, but they have obligations that prevent them from doing that. So, there are these battles that they didn't expect. There's something in the middle of, there's something they want and something pulling them in the other direction.
Casey Weade: I wonder if it's really that bad of a thing and maybe it's even a necessity for some to go through that period of time. I asked that, I might relate that back to someone that's just out of college. They're not sure exactly what they want to do and they bounce through job to job for the first maybe five years of their career before they find the thing they really love. But they had to go through some of those pains in order to really understand themselves and what they were going to enjoy doing. Is it possible that we don't have to go through that? And how do we know if we should have this plan beforehand and know exactly what we want to do? And for others go, hey, it's okay, I'm just going to step in and figure it out?
Joe Casey: Sure. I think most people do not know what they want to do exactly going in, and that's okay. You have to be comfortable with that. Give yourself time to experiment, but I think where a good retirement coach helps is they can get you there faster than those two and a half years or four and a half years because they can help focus you on the decision making in a structured process to help you. So, I think it's a good point. And really, the way I work with clients is they end up experimenting rather than diving into something.
Some of the mistakes I've seen people make too early is nature abhors a vacuum. And when you suddenly retire and oftentimes people do or almost half retire earlier than planned, often five years earlier, and if you're suddenly retired, then all of a sudden, you've got to really sort out what am I going to do with my time? And people find you, deliveries. Can you wait for the cable guy? Can you do this? Can you do that? And then, can you volunteer here? Can you do this? Can you get-- your time gets filled pretty quickly, but it's a whole bunch of other people's priorities. And so, I'm really tied to what you really want to do.
And then there's an awkward process of reminding someone's obligations, except for the cable guy, for those who still get cable. And that becomes difficult for some people to be able to disengage, and it's a whole nother set of transitions. So, I think what tends to work is people thinking about it early, starting with their values. What's most important to them now could be somewhat different. Back to your first question about the hero's journey and the stumbling stones I mentioned to what it is now in the future going forward could be a slightly different list. Some things may pop up higher. Some things may have been more important. Why raising a family, pursuing a career, but dropped down a bit.
Casey Weade: So, I think what you said earlier. Did you say that on average, individuals are going to retire five years earlier than planned?[7.5s]
Joe Casey: The Employee Benefit Research Institute has a bunch of studies, great research. And one that they come up with every year has consistently found that about 48%, 49% of people retire earlier than they planned, and often up to five years ahead. So, that's why I always talk to people about a part of the value of doing some of this work early is to make sure you have a plan B because that's a hard thing to do from a standing start, but it's more common than we often realize.
The other thing that they came up with within a recent study wasn't about satisfaction retirement, it was about spending patterns. This is in September. So, there's a Covid effect there. What they found is that 76% of people who retired on average eight years, I'm using averages a lot today, my apologies, only 76% felt that their retirement experience wasn't living up to their expectations. Now, I didn't go into detail on this, didn't said what were the expectations. Were they too high? Or what else is going on there? But it doesn't have to be that way. More than 24% of people should be really enjoying the time that they've worked so hard and sacrificed for them to be able to enjoy.
Casey Weade: And when we talk about this plan B, I know what that would be from a financial standpoint. We talk about having a plan B for your retirement. Someone's planning on retiring at 65, but they're 60, let's put together a plan just in case you go into retirement tomorrow. What does that look like from a non-financial perspective?
Joe Casey: Sure. And that's why I think they really go hand in hand because you definitely have to start with the numbers, but then you get to the emotional part of it. And retirement is one of the 10 most stressful life experiences. It's number 10, so I don't want to exaggerate, but it's in the top 10. And that's because it really hits at a lot of things that are emotional, meaning often, for most people, it's the identity, "Who am I?", often with especially men gets tied to our jobs when we do. And then all of a sudden, that's gone. Who are you now? Who are you going to be? And that's something we work on with people.
The other thing about it is it really disrupts your routine, especially if you had long career. You've had work providing structure, routines, whether it'd be days, whether it'd be weeks, sometimes months, years, and that's suddenly not there anymore. The good part is you got your freedom, you do what you want, that things you've got to provide that structure. It also hit status really directly, because not only how we think of ourselves in terms of what we do, how others view us can often be tied to what we do as well. And all of a sudden that's shifted.
And a very innocuous question like, "So what do you do?" in a barbecue becomes an awkward moment that really people feel, they feel the awkwardness in that, and it takes a while to really craft that new identity. You don't want to rush as I mentioned before, you don't want to jump into things too soon. You want to experiment, you want to test, but you want to have an answer to that, that's forward looking. I think the ones I see that thrive a retirement have done that work. They've built a new future and they see themselves that way. Once a struggle, looking back in the past, I used to be X, I used to be Y. And it's a different experience.
Casey Weade: This makes me think on a side note here of something that came up when I first joined a group called Front Row Dads. It's family men with businesses, not businessmen with families is the slogan. And then going out and going to the event, I'm meeting a lot of individuals that are entrepreneurs, but you'd ask them what they do, and they would say, I'm a father, I'm a husband, been married for 25 years, and we have three kids. And they created a different sense of identity that was before their career. And I think about that in retirement as if you've already done that. I'm a grandfather. I'm a husband. And these are the things that are most important to me. I say that first in that moment, as you transition to retirement, it doesn't have to change a whole lot. That identity is a little bit more static.
Joe Casey: You've got that foundation. You've got the base. It's how you see yourself. And now, you have more time for those things so it's a real positive. You mentioned the fatherhood being such a base. I can remember exactly where I was, just walking down the street the day after Christmas, I got a call, cell phone, and it was a potential client who ended up working with us, who said, "I'm terrified. I've just sold my business to my daughter and son-in-law and I am terrified because I also don't know what I want to do." He was 62 at the time. And it was the first time that I had come across fear, which I heard more and more over the last few years with people, particularly men talking about retirement. And the prospect was terrifying. They really had gone all-in on work, even though they have, as you're saying, the parental identity, but they didn't have any outside interests, they'd gone away. They dropped them over time.
And I had another client from Philadelphia, a person who was retiring in six months. Same thing, opened up the same conversation, with really afraid of retirement. He actually had been referred by his wife who listens to our podcast. She called me right after one of our episodes and said, "My husband needs you. He just doesn't know it yet." And when we met, we went through this whole thing. And what he was terrified about was being bored. So, I've got a dynamic job, really instant, but over time, as the years have gone by, I put my other interests aside and I'm all-in on this job, just as my other client had put it all-in on his own entrepreneurial business. And with him, I usually future focus, as I mentioned, looking ahead. It didn't work with him. And it taught me a lot about myself in coaching and I had to shift gears because he really didn't. He wasn't kidding. He didn't have any interests outside of work. It was all about work.
So, what I decided to do was let's go backwards. And we went back decade by decade, just like that scene in Jerry Maguire, where he said, well, it wasn't always about the money, was it? Was it? You weren't always in this profession, right? And so, as we go back to decades, teenagers, etc., etc., different things start to come back that he was interested. He started to come alive a little bit. And one by one, he started to bring some of the things back. And being a smart man, he brought back Date Night first, and that was a big hit. And he started to do some other things exercise-wise in particular, started with things he used to do. Tai Chi, he used to be involved in so he reignited that.
And then he got into some things about helping others. And what he remembered was he really enjoyed reading to their only child when he was younger. He got involved in a program helping inner city youth learn to read, and reading to them. And so, he ended up with this portfolio of interests going from no interest at all to a bunch of things. He's a big reader, went back to really reading classic literature, going back to the library on a regular basis, which was within walking distance, but he built his own new routine, but it always strikes me that people are afraid of retirement. It should be the other way around. You should be really looking forward to it, embracing it, and using those 2,500 hours a year in different ways that you want to.
Casey Weade: How is that individual going to use what he was so good at, right? You've got someone that is incredibly gifted in business. How were those strengths in this instance, leveraged in the second act?
Joe Casey: So, I work with three groups of people. Just real quickly, I'll get into that. The first is people who are focused on the transition. He was in that category. He knew he was done. Most of the people I work with are retired, but not done yet. He was done. He wanted to just go off and enjoy more time with his wife and son. And that's why getting a structure and interest was so important to him. The second group of people I work with are really interested in upgrading their retirement. They're already retired and they want to come back and do something because it wasn't what they thought it was going to be, they're in that 76% where it didn't live up to expectations, but the biggest group I work with is people who really want to design their life going forward.
So, to answer your question with him, he was interested in just how am I going to spend my time. I don't want it to be work related, end up doing some things, volunteering on political campaigns, and redirecting his expertise to some local organizations where he could offer professional help, on more of a pro bono basis, unpaid business. But many people, that's the most common thing that I work with people, is how I redirect my skill set and expertise in new ways. That's a number one thing, consulting part-time, etc.
The second most common is service, something they want to do for the greater good, can be volunteering, can be social entrepreneurship, something in that regard. That's second most common. Third is teaching. This dream, I always want to be a teacher or a coach, one of my neighbors did this, not a client. He was a lacrosse player in college, a goalie, so used to have a lot of things coming at him all the time. And he was an engineer, so a very good planner. And he ended up coaching his daughters in lacrosse, getting involved in the travel teams, and then ended up being an assistant coach, particularly folks that are recruiting locally at one of the colleges. And that led to his post-retirement future, which is actually, really being a college lacrosse coach. So, teaching in different forms comes up a lot. Next there is creative pursuits. People want to write the book like you did and take time to do that, or art school, people go back to art school. That's one person who is interested in cooking more, ended up going back to culinary school, not for professional use, but really, just to really get serious about it.
And the other thing that comes up is entrepreneurship. Not as common, but there are some people who said, "I always want to run my own thing, I want to start my own business." And what they face is how much they want to put into that, not only financially to make sure it's boxed, but also in terms of their time. Most of the people that I work with come out with a portfolio of activities, work still being in the mix for many of them, but also things I want to do for service, things I want to do for fun. And so, they have those three buckets that they toggle back and forth.
And then, there's the last category, which I did not know until I started writing a book, existed in terms of research. And that's something called Serious Leisure, which I couldn't believe the body of research on this. And these are things that are basically ranging from athletics to hobbies, you name it, where people go deep and pursue mastering that, or what they get from is a surprise benefit and connections and social interaction with like-minded people, but they're really serious about it, and it becomes something that they really want to spend their time on. So, I see a lot of that, and then people just want to get back in shape and really take better care of their health, this runs throughout all this.
Casey Weade: We believe that we have a massive opportunity today with the largest generation in history stepping into retirement if we change the definition of retirement and change it to impact. This generation has so much experience, so much education, so much knowledge, wealth, time, here they can go back out and use those talents, those strengths that they had during their working career, during those years in their life where they didn't have the time. They can now leverage those things to change the direction of the world to make a bigger impact today. I want to revisit something that you had said earlier about this being the 10th most stressful experience or transition in life. I don't know whether...
Joe Casey: Number 11 is podcasting.
Casey Weade: What's that?
Joe Casey: Number 11 is podcasting.
Casey Weade: Number 11 is podcasting. Well, I'm wondering, I don't know what the top nine are, but I feel like you probably have a good idea of what a few of those other items are. Do you see that these stressful things in life, they have something in common. Do they have something in common, those other nine with number 10?
Joe Casey: Yes. And that's change. We as humans really don't like change. And they all involve this type of change often that's imposed, unexpected events, things like death of a spouse, divorce, even marriage is on there, pretty, pretty close, so things like that, which is expected, obviously. So, it's been about something changing, and then all the ripple effects from that event or shift that you have to make. We don't like that. We prefer the status quo. That's one of the tensions. It's safe. It's familiar. We can go on autopilot a bit. And change takes us out of our comfort zone and it leads to growth, but back to your earlier point about the value of coming out of college, not knowing what you want to do next, very similar. There's definitely usually a reward at the end of those struggles, not always, but often. And it's really embracing change and getting good at making those shifts, making those changes.
Casey Weade: I wanted to ask this question since you said you had a coach, you had an executive coach, it sounds like, at one point for a year. Do you still have a coach today? Do you work with a coach?
Joe Casey: I do. I had a coach for years. Terrific. As you can tell from my bio, I'm really serious about the lifelong learning piece, very passionate about that so I continue on. I'm still in a program that's run by David Peterson, who used to run a leadership development at Google. He's a phenomenal coach and he has a program, I think, I'm in my second year. You go through different levels of it, where it's literally every week, and the structure of it is, first week of the month is a block on learning, what's going on in the world of coaching, the world of business. The second week is coaching demos where you see really some of the best people in the world do this. And then the third week is groups of coaches who participate, really practicing new techniques and getting critiqued, all on Zoom.
And so, we go through that drill with different skills and things on the Zoom. These are for experienced coaches. The one I'm in now is for the top 20% of people who went through the first two versions of it. So, you get selected which I was just privileged to be a part of. And I just think that continuous learning is so, so important. So, I get coaching through that way. And I also have other relationships. I don't have a paid coach I'm working with currently, but I did a couple of years ago, and still have that more on the business side.
Casey Weade: I'm a huge believer in coaches. I have more than one myself and I continue to do that year after year. I feel like I'm adding a coach almost every year, and that's how I get better. Well, what would you say to someone who said, "Well, this thing Joe's doing sounds pretty interesting, retirement coach, I've got some experience in transitioning retirement, it struggles," what would you say to someone that's entertaining this as a second act?
Joe Casey: So, I think it's a great field to work in. I think that, again, the demographics are very clear, and I think people are coming out of companies obviously far earlier. So, they have longer to live, more to give. And so, there's a great wealth of people to do that. I think the challenges can be, people don't understand what it is because it's one of those terms you hear. So, why would I need that? How hard could that be? But when you get into it, you can go actually do.
If you want to play golf five days a week and travel, you don't need me or people like me, but the thing I would say to people considering this, make sure you're trained, get certifications, but go beyond that meaning, there are people who have figured out that there's more money in training retirement coaches, but they actually aren't doing retirement coaching. So, I'm a little outspoken on this. And I think they sometimes take well-meaning people, not Retirement Options, by the name of Joanne Waldman, that's what I went through. She is a great trainer, but there are others in the field who I think sell the certification. There's training behind it. Based on the coaching I've seen, I think it's a little light.
So, I think invest in training first as a coach, then a retirement coach, because I think you need the fundamentals. It's like any sport, part of business. You want the strong foundation and then add a specialty as opposed to going right into specialty, in my opinion, but it is a good field. I get to work with fascinating people. I'm inspired by my clients. I have a range of ages now. Look at the people I'm working with today. The youngest is 48, the oldest is 75, and everything in between. And I've got two 75-year-olds, and they inspire me because they said, "I have so much more I want to do over the next five to ten years. I need help in figuring out which path I should follow." And there's just so much inspiration just working with people. So, it's a great thing to do, but if you want to invest in your own training, so you're adding value and experience, your own experience is important, but it's more about the techniques, the approaches, and make sure that they're solidly grounded.
Casey Weade: I really enjoyed what you said, that they've found out that there's more money in coaching and creating certifications and actually being a coach because it's the same thing in the financial advice industry. There was recently a financial planning article in Financial Planning magazine that actually just landed on my desk today. And I just couldn't wait to open it because it had all these crazy designations on the front of it. And it turns out, there are 212 different designations or certifications that you could have today in the financial advice industry. And there's only a handful of them that actually mean anything. There's only a handful of them that really were designed to create meaningful education.
There's a whole credentialing industry that's popped up not to just make money, of course, but to also create artificial credibility for individuals that are in the financial advice field. So, when we look at your designations, Certified Executive and Organizational Coach, Designing Your Life Certified Coach, Retirement Options Certified Coach, what do all these certifications mean? And are there specific certifications out there that mean more than others? What are the ones that people should look for? Not if they're going to get certified necessarily, but more so, if someone's looking for a retirement coach, how do they know if the person actually has what it takes to do a great job?
Joe Casey: Sure. So, I'll probably get hate emails from people in the industry when I go through this list, but here it goes. So, I think it's important that the coach you're looking to hire has training in a particular approach. So, I always encourage people to ask the question, what's your retirement coaching approach based on? Because I think you learn the training up in through is as much focused on doing and learning from experience and reflecting on the experience and tweaking things than it is academics. I've got the academics too, but it's really about doing what you learn most.
So, my executive coach training was in a university setting. It was a year-long program, very intensive and very hands-on, very practical. And that was really instrumental because you get videotaped, you can critiqued same thing. It's like looking at the tape in sports and rewinding it and saying, "Why did you do that? What were you thinking when you went here versus here?" But you come up with the framework and you come up with an approach. In my case, that approach is based on the principles of adult learning, how we learn as adults, and that's from experience and reflection and getting that learning through that cycle. So, that's based on.
Designing Your Life is a brain approach developed by two Stanford professors, Dave Evans and Bill Burnett. Bill Burnett runs the Design School at Stanford University, and they take the principles of design thinking and apply them to career and life planning, not retirement specifically, but one of the few that does in retirement, but it really uses a three-phase process of reflection. What's important to you? What energized you? Ideation, that's a creative part. What could the possible paths be that you would pursue? And what are the pros and cons of each? And then, finally, prototyping is the one with a computer product or a new physical product.
Taking those ideas you have out on the road to people who are doing those things today and reality test them. So, a lot of times, your retirement coaching will talk about dreams, what you're dreaming about what you really want to do, that's great, but then they stay there, not really test it where you learn a lot more. And so, I use that approach about 60% of the time in my retirement coaching because it really is very solid and a privilege to be able to be trained by the two professors. They have a book that they came out within 2016, Designing Your Life, which lays out the processes.
And then, let's see, I'm also certified in another technique with another Stanford professor BJ Fogg, Tiny Habits, a great book, a New York Times bestseller 2019. And that gets at how you change. And I started using his method in 2014. I was a marathon runner before I got injured and so a runner on a machine, but I came across this method and I said, "Boy, I'm doing great with running, but I haven't done things like sit-ups. So, I started with one and got up to 200 a day.
Few years ago, I came across, again, in an article that said, if you're over 40, which I am and you are a man, which I am, you can really benefit by if you can do 40 pushups a day in under a minute, it'll help your cardiovascular health. All right, I'm interested. Use it again, start with one and I do 50 a day now without thinking. This method takes, what do you want to do? Break it down to its smallest variation, bolting it on to something you automatically do, and then celebrating it to wire into your brain that you really want to do more of this. And it grows gradually. So, that I add into the mix because when I work with people in that retirement context, it's what do you want to do? And then how do you start? So, it helps them start small and build those things in. And I've done that with some couples from time to time where they want to work on things together, which is pretty interesting.
Casey Weade: It reminds me of Darren Hardy and his book, The Compound Effect, one little thing at a time compounding on one another. That's one of my favorite books. I've probably read that one more than anything else. This kind of brings us to a question that we had from one of our fans that was submitted via email. So, if you subscribe to our Weekend Reading email that goes out every Friday, you can do that at RetireWithPurpose.com, then you get invited to ask questions of our guests ahead of time. And Ron asked, "What criteria should we use to determine if a retirement coach is a good fit? Also, what is a reasonable amount to pay for coaching?"
And I would break that down to even looking for specific certifications when we're talking about criteria. I don't know if that exists in your industry, but if I am looking for someone that knows how to create a retirement income plan, I want a retirement income certified professional. If I'm looking for someone that's going to do estate planning, I'll look for someone that's a CLU. If I'm looking for someone that's really good at tax advice, maybe I'll go to a CPA, someone that manages portfolios, CFA, so on and so forth. There are some of the specific designations, depending on your unique circumstances. I don't know if that would be one of those elements of criteria that Ron might use to determine what retirement coach would be right for him.
Joe Casey: Sure. So, Ron, great question, because I think it's an important decision. You want to talk to a number of retirement coaches, I'd recommend two or three so you'd get a sense. A lot of people will talk about the chemistry has to be right. There's going to be a fit, I'm going to really click with the person. I think that's important. It's necessary, but not sufficient. You want the chemistry, but that's not enough. A lot of people stop there. And I just remind people you're not hiring a friend, you're hiring a coach with skills.
So, if your car breaks down on the highway, you need a mechanic, but you might need a mechanic that really specializes in your particular kind of car. So, look for what background they have before they get into coaching. Is it relevant to you? Could that add something? And then, the certification, there's a certified retirement coach at the Retirement Options. And you've had Joanne Waldman on your podcast before. I went through that training. That was very good. But it wasn't really the coach training, it was to use the assessments. I used those assessments, Retirement Success Profile, LifeOptions Profiles as well. They're very good, very solid, research-based.
So, you want to look beyond that in terms of what coach trainings they have in addition to a certification because certification of retirement teaches you some things, but not others, as I've mentioned before. So, you want to talk about what types of clients that they've worked with before? What are some of their success stories? What are some of the challenges? What's their approach based on? Those are the big ones, I would say.
And then, in terms of the cost, it's actually really inexpensive. The executive coaching, by the way, is not, because the companies are paying. So, that's a different skill. But individual coaching, retirement coaching, it's very affordable. I hesitate to quote rates specifically because I don't have a full handle these days on exactly the range. However, I would look for coaches who are not trying to sell you a long-term commitment. I, for example, just give people a pay as you go. I'm not going to get you to commit to six months or a year. I'm going to get you to commit to one session, and then you continue. And I've worked with people most often for about six months, but I have two clients that were coming up on month ten because it's useful to them.
So, I'd look for what are you really signing up for drilling into that and challenge the coach, saying, "Can we do pay as you go?" Because I think that really gives both of you flexibility. And most people continue, but it's not working, I don't think it's good for either party. It's good to check references to say, "Can I talk to a client or two?" That has worked before to get a sense and really just get a sense of the process, I would say most of all. How are we going to accomplish this? And what's that based on? That's, I think, the important thing.
Casey Weade: And for someone that's looking to start going down this path, I mean, how early should they secure a retirement coach? You mentioned there's a lot of individuals that get sucked into retirement five years earlier than planned. And so, how early is, when do we do this?
Joe Casey: So, most of the people that I work with are a year to six months in that range. I do have a number of people now that are two years out. The earliest has five years out. I think if you work with a coach who can modularize, meaning you could start and then stop and come back later, which I've done with some people, that can be helpful. If you're starting early, you can start reading. Reading your weekly email is helpful. Start reading about the optimist's side of retirement so you kind of hit the ground running a little bit. But I think a year out is a must, a little earlier if you're really not sure about what you want to do next year and a half or so, I think it can really work well.
Casey Weade: Yeah, I know from a financial perspective, it should be as soon as possible. You have to make sure you're staying on the right path. And I would think, even from a coaching perspective, you could get a coach 10 years early, and at least get a handle, do that one meeting. If we're doing the pay on the go, yeah, okay. Well, give me some good things to think about over the next 10 years. Maybe you're not going to meet with them for the next 10 years, but that could get the thought engine started, I would think.
Joe Casey: Yes. And there's a saying in your life approach I mentioned that I use, I take people in really 6 to 12 sessions through the process to the point where they've really done the experiment thing, and they're worse than that. They usually go off on their own at that point. Some come back later if they need more fine-tuning or help, but that's back to that short game, that two-and-a-half or four-and-a-half-year average. You can really condense it. It is work, more on your part than my part. Certainly, both our parts, but it's going to be the things you're going to do, the experiment you're going to do. So, you want to have enough time to do that where you don't feel rushed, you've got time to do it at your own pace and time to fit it into your life and work.
Casey Weade: Let's get down to an article that you wrote for Forbes titled "Unretirement", or is an article that you discussed in Forbes, "Unretirement", this concept. What is unretirement? And why is it becoming so popular?
Joe Casey: So, surprisingly, or at least it was a surprise to me when I discovered this, about 25% of people in the US and UK, according to a couple of studies, unretire within the first five years. And I mentioned I have some clients who come to me three or four years out and say, "You know, I really don't know if this is what I expected." And I had one just real quick story if I could, and I'll get back to your question.
A gentleman who called me one day, also these phone calls I was running between meetings, and I looked down, and you know that moment on your cell phone, you see an unknown caller, and I said, "Should I take this call? Or should I go on to my next meeting?" I took the call. And it was a person on the West Coast who had sold his business four years before, done very well. He said you know what, two words I never forgot, something's missing. And what he said was, "I want to go back to work, but I wouldn't mind something different than what I'm doing today." He said, "I don't want to dive back onto the Merry-Go-Round, but I'd love to hear the circus music play every once in a while."
And so, he was looking for that way back in. So, he ended up doing something which was a combination of things, philanthropic, board seats and some consulting. But what drives people back is actually not the financial side, most commonly. It's about offhand, I think, 70% nonfinancial because of the things we get from work beyond the paycheck, the camaraderie, social connections, the identity, the purpose, status, those types of things. And they're missed when they're not there. You take them for granted why you're working, but you take them away and all of a sudden, it creates a void. So, people really want to get back into something that has that connectivity. And often, it's getting back not just to the same work, but something that has more meaning.
Casey Weade: One of our fans, Ken, had asked, what careers show a larger percentage of unretirees than others? Do you see any trends there? I feel like you see a lot of-- I would think it would be entrepreneurs would just be the number 1 category in that list.
Joe Casey: I haven't seen.. now I have to think about it. In my work, I don't see any trends because it's so individual. I don't recall the research on it. One of the people, Nicole Maestas at Harvard, has done a lot of research on this unretirement with the RAND Corporation, but I'll follow up and see. What I see is professional doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, people like that, who are just all love their work. They sometimes drift back in a way. That's why I think ahead to repurpose. How do you redirect your skillset? How do you repurpose it to what you want to do is so important?
Casey Weade: Well, Joe, as we come to a close here, I wanted to talk about your ebook because we're going to be offering that free in just a moment to our listeners. It is titled 7 Traps in Planning for Life in Retirement - And How You Can Avoid Them. How do you define trap?
Joe Casey: So, I see a lot of traps. Some are in the e-book, some are not. I noticed, one of them is, assuming that retirement is vacation and not factoring in that 20-year vacation can actually be pretty boring. And thinking about retirement equals just relaxation. When I see a lot that people want some more challenge, they won't be overwhelmed.
Casey Weade: Joe, is this the lazy river analogy?
Joe Casey: Yes.
Casey Weade: Can you include that one?
Joe Casey: Sure. So, we have a place near us that we stick our kids to when they're younger, lazy river, and you just go on for an afternoon and you're just drifting along. And I think that seems appealing when you're commuting, working, in meetings, dealing with your boss, just relaxing sounds great. But after a couple of times around the lazy river, you really want to get off, our kids didn't, but we did. And I think these are the same things here. You want some degree of challenge, something that you're trying to get some places, some kind of goals. People saygoals? Goals are retirement. That sounds like some kind of an oxymoron, but you really do want something you're pursuing, something you're striving for, something you're mastering, you're tinkering with, something you're getting. And in particular, the most powerful is something new, something new that you're undertaking, something new you're learning or taking up for the first time to really add a lot of history.
Casey Weade: So, is that the most powerful type of goal, is doing something new?
Joe Casey: Something new or something with purpose. You write a lot about purpose. And one of the things that I find that people don't know about purpose in retirement is the connection with health. There were two University of Michigan studies, one in 2019, one just in April 2021. The first one found that people who did not have a strong life purpose, this is like 7,000 people in the study, were more than twice as likely to die. The second one, more optimistically, is about exercise, a new one in 2021, April. And they really looked at about 5,000 people, and it's kind of a bilateral relationship. Those who have a high degree of exercise have a high sense of purpose. Chicken and egg, you don't know which one is driving the other, but they're associated, not necessarily causal, but exteriorize it, it also helps that structure. So, pursuing exercise on a regular basis tends to have the structure of your day to include that in there. So, that's another way to think of purpose.
I also find that the clients I work with, purpose sounds overwhelming. I just retired, and I got to find a new purpose. How do I do that? I find that my clients end up with a multipurpose retirement. They have some experiments and over time, one starts to emerge by trying...
Casey Weade: Is that your retirement rehearsal concept? Or is that along those lines? What is your retirement rehearsal concept?
Joe Casey: It becomes part of it where you really start to do some things before you dive in. And because you don't really, really, really know what they're like until you're behind the curtain or involved. Volunteering is a good example where people say, "Well, I thought the mission was so powerful," but then they didn't realize the organization behind it has as many politics, if not more, than the company they've just retired from. And that isn't what they had in mind. So, really experimenting, testing, and then letting things grow can be really helpful. And again, if you want a running start, thinking about it a little bit ahead of time can position you well.
Casey Weade: That's great. Yeah, number 6 on the list was not aligning with your spouse or partner as one of the traps in planning for life in retirement. What are some exercises to ensure that you are on the same page? And once we've done that exercise, what are some things that we can do to get aligned?
Joe Casey: Sure. So, the basic lives really just start to talk about the topic, meaning what are your hopes? What are your concerns? Those two buckets can be really useful because that can start to educate each other about what you have in mind, because you may be in a different place. One spouse might be saying, "Look, I want to dial back a little bit or shift gears." The other might be saying "I'm ready to now step out and really achieve and pursue things." And knowing that's important. Start talking about where you think you want to live, some of those tangible things.
The Retirement Options assessment, Retirement Success profile that Joanne Waldman mentioned in the podcast is a good one to take separately. I always recommend people, take it by yourself and then compare notes because that can tell you how prepared you are against different dimensions of retirement, particularly non-financially, but I think the conversation is important because it's something people tend to avoid. And if you can just start the discussion, especially spinning it forward. In five years, in three years, where do we think we want to be? What do you think of every day? What would a perfect day be like? What would you have done? What would a perfect week have been like? What would we have done? And what would we have done together? And what would we have done separately? Because sometimes people think, we have to do everything together. And so, someone who has been privileged to be married for 40 years in a row, you need both. You need things you do together, but you need to think of separate interests as well. And so, factoring that in can be really helpful.
Casey Weade: What do you find to be the most common misalignment?
Joe Casey: The most common misalignment is around the purpose factor. What are the things that are going to drive us? Because one or both are now saying it used to be my career or it used to be raising our children, again, one or both, have a primary focus. And now, I've got to replace them. And their expectations, that one spouse may have for another about how to do that, that may not really align with what they really want to do because they may not fully know yet. And so, having constructive kind of brainstorming kind of conversations about that can help about what's possible with the ground rule of no judgment. Very important, we're just talking about these are just ideas. Let's experiment with these and see where things can bring you there. Because if you're open-minded and you set that tone, you can really open your mind to other things that weren't top of mind for you. I always have learned the hard way to listen to my spouse. I knew when I met her, she was much smarter than me, and it's been proven ever since.
Casey Weade: Well, Joe, I was curious, after 40 years of marriage transitioning into retirement, you were 52. Were there any misalignments that you had to manage?
Joe Casey: I think there are more on my side. I remember when I first was home, I hadn't been home in 30 years, in the office every day. And back then, so that's 11 years ago, wasn't as cell phone driven as we are today. We had a landline. I picked up the phone because it was raining constantly. And people said, "What are you doing there?" And I had to tell a story over again. So, it took me about a month before I got an outside office, which I still have. All these years later, it's not a work from home due to COVID, but I think the other part is how the responsibilities shift as you move from a demanding career to more flexibility, how are you going to spend that time family-wise, helping with things. The roles and responsibilities can shift a little bit too. It's having an open dialog about what's really important.
Casey Weade: Well, Joe, you had one second act. So, you transitioned into a second act from human resources to coaching. Is there going to be a third act for Joe?
Joe Casey: I like the combination of the executive coaching where I still keep my one foot in the business side and I do most of the coaching in person, and retirement coaching, which is really helping people achieve their dreams and sort out with some clarity where they want to go. It's a great combination. So, I want to continue to do that. I have started to write more. I've just finished a manuscript, going through the editing process on a book about the oppositional forces people find themselves in retirement, the battles. We've got a series of nine of them that I've seen in my clients, and I take one hypothetical client and put them through all the nine. And the story ends with him leading a life of purpose, but that's the final challenge is sorting out the purpose thing. So, I enjoy the writing, I enjoy talking, but most of all, I want to continue to work as long as I can, helping people on the coaching side. I'm one of these-- I don't think I'll ever retire, ironically, I like this work so much.
Casey Weade: Along those lines, you don't have to get into this if you don't want to, if it's too personal, but do you work with a financial advisor?
Joe Casey: Yes, I worked at Merrill Lynch for 26 years. And most of the people that I work with have financial advisors, too, although occasionally, they're not satisfied with them. I think the most satisfied ones are working with CFPs, but, yes, you have to have the financial side down pat first, I think, before looking at something else.
Casey Weade: Did your strategy change? Is it unique or different due to you still working and creating income in this second act? It doesn't have to be specific.
Joe Casey: No, just something I have to think about. No, because a lot of mine was deferred comp from my corporate career that was spread out over a long period of time so still to go. So, that was built a lot around them and built around probably, as I'm healthy enough, retiring at 70. We're talking retiring at 70 for Social Security and deferring them until that time, so.
Casey Weade: And you wanted to ensure that everyone always has a plan B. You want to work forever. You want to do this forever. You never want to retire. So, what's Joe's plan B?
Joe Casey: So, my plan B is really to be able to do more or less of it, depending on what else I want to do. That's what's good about owning your own businesses so I can go all out, I can dial it back. Like I'm really determined how much I want to work, how much effort I want to put into it. Right now, I'm all in. I've been that way since I graduated college, but at some point in the future, it may be time to dial it back a little bit.
Casey Weade: Yeah, there was a previous guest, Dr. George Schofield, that came on and said, you never want to let your ponies turn into Clydesdales. And I think as many go down this path, they get into a second business or a new type of work. They start a new business in retirement. As you have here, it can become that Clydesdale. It sounds like you feel like you've got a lot of control over this where you know it's not going to get out of hand. Do you use any strategies or techniques or thought processes to check yourself and make sure you're not getting things too dialed up?
Joe Casey: Yes, a number of things, but the most important one I picked up 15 years ago and used it every week almost without fail since, and that's David Allen's Getting Things Done. And he has a process, a part of his system called the Weekly Review. And it's really setting up a meeting with yourself. And I do that every week. When I was working, I did it on Friday afternoons. And now, I do it on Sundays right before Zoom and mass. So, I block off the hour and get it done. Really, look at what's going on, working life from a 30,000-foot view and then down to the ground to really give a check. And so, I look at my client list. I look at the week ahead, look at the month ahead, look at the week back, commitments, follow-up, etc., etc., manage all those things.
And the other one I used for even longer, Stephen Covey's concept from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I found transformational for me. This concept called Big Rocks that you really want to have the commitments, put the big rocks in a jar first, and you can fit in all the pebbles as opposed to the opposite, where you try to put the sand in first, the little things, you can't fit the big rocks, your priorities, into the jar. So, I always really have an idea, one of the big rocks, one of my commitments personally and professionally, make sure they're knocked down so I can organize around this.
And that leaves time for my hobbies and things I'd like to do. I even try to run, set a goal. My goal coming out of retirement was I always wanted to qualify for my hometown, Boston Marathon, and I did it. I trained while working, but I could never quite get it right, but I knew I had the ability to do it. And so, I finally did. It took me 12 races, and that was big because I had the time to dedicate to the right type of training and I hired a coach at the end. I got my time down. I was close, six minutes away, and I said, I don't know if I can get it down further. So, I hired a coach and so, I ended up beating the qualifying time by five minutes. Postscript, I ended up a half-mile to go and broke my left hip, stress fracture, ended up in the hospital for a week, seven months of physical therapy three days a week, but I'm very lucky I had a great surgeon. I can now run on a machine, I don't run outdoors anymore, but I was able to dedicate the time to do some work today.
Casey Weade: Well, Joe, I know as we come to a close here, there's a lot of individuals that are listening on, man, I really like this guy. I want to learn more about him. If you want to learn more about Joe, we'll have a link back to his site, his page in the show notes. You can check it out at RetireWithPurpose.com, just go to the show notes. All the links back to Joe will be right there. You can hire him. You can learn more.
And maybe, it's a good start just to grab a copy of his ebook. And Joe has so graciously provided us with those copies, free of charge to you. All you have to do is this. Go on over to RetireWithPurpose.com and leave a review on iTunes. There's a link right there to leave a review on iTunes for the podcast, or you can do it right inside your podcast app. Just leave an honest rating and review of the podcast, and then shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your iTunes username. We can verify it from there and then we can send you a link of Joe's ebook out to you directly. It is titled again, 7 Traps in Planning for Life in Retirement - And How You Can Avoid Them. I truly enjoyed it.
Joe, thank you for living this second act and providing so much value to all the others that are going through the same thing.
Joe Casey: Casey, thanks for everything you do. You really are shining a light on the importance of purpose, and that's greatly appreciated. It helps a lot of people.
Casey Weade: Well, until next time. Thanks, Joe.
Joe Casey: Thanks.